Strike action in Belfast forces cancellation of 10,000 appointments

Healthcare workers with Unison taking industrial action over pay and staffing levels

 

More than 10,000 outpatient appointments have been cancelled by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust because of ongoing industrial action by healthcare workers in Northern Ireland.

All outpatient appointments scheduled at the Trust’s hospitals on Monday 2nd, Tuesday 3rd and Thursday 5th December have been cancelled. All day case procedures and planned surgeries or admissions between Monday 2nd and Thursday 5th December have been postponed.

Emergency services are not affected, and outpatient appointments provided in community facilities will continue as scheduled.

Healthcare workers represented by the union Unison voted earlier this month to take industrial action short of a strike over pay and staffing levels from November 25th until December 18th.

Nurses are to commence industrial action next week after the members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) voted to go on strike for the first time in the organisation’s 103-year history. The RCN said there was a “risk to patient safety from staff shortages.”

Figures released by the North’s Department of Health on Thursday showed that, as of 30th September this year, more than 300,000 people were waiting for their first appointment with a consultant.

There has been no health minister in Northern Ireland for almost three years. The hospitals affected by next week’s strike action include the Royal Victoria Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, School of Dentistry, Belfast City Hospital, Mater Hospital and Musgrave Park Hospital.

It is expected service will resume as planned on December 6th.

The Belfast Trust will write to all affected patients to provide a rescheduled appointment or admission date as soon as possible.

“Due to the extraordinary circumstances and the large number of people affected, we would ask that people do not ring the Trust to reschedule their appointment,” a spokesman for the Trust said.